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Jack White – Boarding House Reach

April 2, 2018

It looks like some critics are panning Jack White’s new album. For example Pitchfork:

With the joy and wit all but absent from his songwriting, Jack White’s third solo album becomes a long, bewildering slog.

I don’t agree it is worthy of all that bile.  I like the album.

I respect Jack White and his various projects, but they never clicked for me. Boarding House Reach works for me.  I am at the point in my listening career where I can’t help but hear influences in almost everything I listen to. On Boarding House Reach I hear Bowie, Prince, Todd Rundgren, Led Zeppelin, Zappa and hip hop influences. But it is unmistakably Jack White.

The album is weird, but not unlistenable weird. Jack White is a certified weirdo; weird is his modus operandi. He is fun and interesting weird.

Not all critics hate the album. Steven Hyden loves the album and gives it a well thought-out review. He makes a not so crazy comparison:

For the past week, as I’ve listened to Jack White’s very good and pleasingly strange new album Boarding House Reach, I’ve thought often about Prince. Jack White reminds me of Prince. Is that an obtuse comparison? I’m not aware of anyone making the connection before, but the more I think about it, the more obvious it seems. Not only is Jack White like Prince, Jack White might very well be Prince.

So what do I like about this album?

  • The elaborate hip hop influenced arrangements
  • The monster guitar riffs
  • Keyboards competing with those guitar riffs
  • The funk
  • Jack White’s career of reinventing the blues – this is yet another inspired twist
  • The weirdness: Jack raps, there are spoken word interludes, there are a variety of styles (hard rock, country, jazz, gospel, prog, hip hop, etc.), Dvořák is a co-writer of one song, etc.

The back story is that White wanted to shake up his routine for this album. So he used Pro Tools (White is legendary for his love of analog recording techniques) for the first time and played with musicians he has never worked with before – many of those musicians work in the hip hop space. Jack White’s experiment on Boarding House Reach is a success.

I was always more of a Black Keys guy vs. White Stripes guy, but I have faithfully monitored Jack White’s career. This is the first White album that has struck a chord with me. I was hooked on the first listen. It is the kind of album that has motivated me to re-listen to his entire catalog. Kudos to Jack White for continued risk taking.

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From → Music Reviews

2 Comments
  1. Jack’s been turning up on a bunch of music docs I’ve watched. Guess it’s time to put some serious listening into the lad.

  2. I agree, his experimentation pays off in this case. Great Post! If anyone is interested in my review it can be found here https://criticoptimist.com/2018/06/04/jack-white-boarding-house-reach/

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